What Roof Jacks Are and How to Use Them

Roof jacks provide a stable work surface, making it easier and safer to apply roofing. See how to use them.

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With steep slopes and unpredictable circumstances, working on a roof can be dangerous and requires safety precautions. A roof jack is a plank that creates a flat, stable surface for you to stand on and is essential for roof work. Roof jacks are ideal for many kinds of roofing projects as they're easy to set up and remove. Below, we show you how to build one that will support your weight while you work.

Step 1: Attach Jack


Roof jacks provide a stable surface to work, increasing safety and making it easier to apply roofing. Ideally, locate a rafter below the sheathing. (You can usually feel sheathing nails, which are driven into rafters through the underlayment.) Attach a jack by driving two 16d nails (never roofing nails) into a rafter.

Step 2: Secure Plank


Slip whichever size board—usually a 2x8-inch or 2x10-inch—will fit snugly into the jacks. The plank should overhang the jacks by about 6 inches on each side. Secure the plank to the jack as shown to prevent the plank from tipping over.

Step 3: Remove Jack


To remove a jack when you're done with it, tap up with a hammer to disengage the jack from the nails. To drive the nails in so they don't poke through the roofing, slip a flat pry bar under the shingle and over the nailhead and pound the nail down. Or, if the tab is flexible enough, lift it as you nail.

Combine Roof Jacks with a Roofing Ladder


To extend your reach from roof jacks, build a rough ladder out of 2x4s and 1x4s. Rest the ladder against the roof jack plank. Make sure that the ladder cannot slide under the plank.

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